HO CHI MINH
The city of HCM or commonly known as Saigon is one more very big city as we like it. You have the most traditional mixed with the most technological and the giant skyscrapers.
It's a very busy city and still manages to have more motorbikes than Hanoi: HCM has the Guinness Record as the place with the most motorbikes registered in the world.
The city is divided by districts and then zones and we stayed in the backpackers zone (Pham Ngu Lao) for being close to the most lively nightlife. Another neighborhood that we liked a lot and returning to HCM we would stay there, is the area of Boulevard Nguyen Hue, closer to all the major attractions and with a very special style. The 2 zones we talked about are in District 1 and this is where you should be.
HCM, as we said, is a city of contrasts, you have many skyscrapers, street stalls, great traditions, markets where the law of negotiation reigns, all types of accommodation and in the backpackers area a totally crazy night life in the style of the neighbor Bangkok in Thailand.
In HCM you have all kinds of transport to use. We used Grab (same as Uber) because it's easier and since it had a very low price, but get ready for huge traffic jams.
We arrived at HCM with an internal flight from Phu Quoc, called a Grab and went to the Aivy Boo Saigon hotel. It's a modest hotel, very well located with a great view of the city and the September 23 Park. We highlight in this hotel the excellent staff, the most friendly that we found in 3 weeks of stay in Vietnam.
What to see in HCM and some places we recommend:
- September 23 Park - Large park in the center of the city and what we liked most was seeing the many residents at the end of the day when it was less hot, playing a kind of badminton with feet. If you want you can try to play with them, we didn't try it but we saw some tourists doing it.
- Bui Vien Street - It's the famous street for backpapckers. Here you have a busy street full of restaurants and bars with very loud music every night and also with many shops for tourists.
- Ben Thanh Market - Is a paradise for those who like shopping. You have a little of everything and get ready to negotiate prices, but you can buy good and cheap things here.
- Xa Loi Pagoda
- War Remnants Museum
- Reunification Palace
- Saigon Opera House
- Ho Chi Minh City Hall
- Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon
- Central Post Office
- Book Street - It's a street without traffic right next to the Notre-Dame Cathedral, full of bookstores and with a lot of charm.
- Dong Khoi Street
- Cao Dai Temple
- Ho Chi Minh City Zoo & Botanical Gardens
- Bitexco Financial Tower Skydeck - Don't miss the climb to the top of the building (265 meters high) to have a notion of HCM seen from above. Worth the visit.
- Nguyen Walking Street - As the name implies is for walking and we loved this area. Here you have luxury hotels, the best shops in the city and a very cosmopolitan atmosphere. Visit by day and also by night so you can see the illuminations of the skyscrapers. At the weekend there's no traffic on the avenue and you have many concerts, exhibitions along the avenue.
Other places we recommend:
- The Cafe Apartments - Right in the middle of Nguyen Hue, is a very old building that was abandoned. Today, this 9-storey apartment block, with many signs of abandonment, is a real surprise. Each apartment is occupied by a café, shop or studio. Walk up and explore every corner of this cool place.
There's a new building similar to The café apartments, it's a little more abandoned but it also deserves your visit.
Less touristic so it's more special. The building is in 14 Ton That Dam and in case you can't find it on googlemaps search for Whisfee Cafe because it's in that builing.
You have to enter a kind of alley (very safe), then you have stairs with arrows signs on the wall: just follow them.
- Saigon Kitsch - Is a store that is close to Nguyen walking street and here you'll find the best and most original souvenirs (really really)! The prices here are fixed and a little higher, but we guarantee that creativity and originality abound here and for sure you'll buy something.
- Leave a full day to take a tour on the Mekong River. We bought our tour through the Getyourguide platform: simple, fast and with very good price. You can check the tour we did HERE.
This tour has a duration of 10 hours with transportation included, lunch, walk through the channels of the Mekong River and bicycle ride among other experiences.
It's a very well spent day and you have the opportunity to explore deep Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh is a beautiful city that deserves your visit!